Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Tragic Tale of Aunt Ida

My great grandparents, Carl Konrad and Kristiana L. (Bergan) Holien had eight children. The children were:
  • Agnis (1894);
  • Cliffert Tiller (1898);
  • Ida M. (Mae?) (1899);
  • Harold E. (1902);
  • Martha (1904);
  • Theodore (my grandfather) (1905);
  • Mildred (1907); and
  • Nellie (1909).
Carl and Kristiana were both born in Norway, but immigrated to the United States at some point.(My records don't indicate whether they met and married here or whether they married there and immigrated as a couple.) All of their children were born in North Dakota, where Carl and Kristiana lived until their deaths. Carl is buried in Cando, ND.
Ida was 3rd born, and did not find a beau as she reached adulthood. She needed to find a way to earn money, a job of her own. Records do not indicate why, but she apparently relocated to Spokane, Washington to live and work. The only information I have to go on is her Spokane, Washington death certificate, and the story my grandmother told me.
I thought I had a good story to tell here, but the information just doesn't line up. Keep in mind that Ida would have been my grandmother's deceased sister-in-law whom Gram may or may not have ever met. It was a close shave, but from Gram's "memoirs" I'd say Gram met the Holiens after Ida's demise. Here is the story Gram told:
Ida, as a 19-year-old, had acquired a job as a seamstress at a shop in town. She worked long hours, and winter days were short--daylight fled quickly. Each day ida and the other girls (I thought Gram said Ida's sisters, Agnis and Martha, but that doesn't seem likely since this was in Washington, not ND) would walk to town early in the morning and walk home after dark. There was no electricity, and one would generally carry a lantern with a candle, or a kerosene lamp, if one could afford such luxuries, but Ida probably had a candle-lantern.
Tramping miles through the snow, the girls did not notice that Ida had strayed from following them. She got separated from them, got off the correct path, and could not find her way. The path she was following crossed a river or lake, or some other deep body of water, and as she crossed, the ice broke and she fell in.
The girls heard her calling for help and ran to try to find her. They could not find her. They ran to get additional help, but Ida could not be found. She died in the cold water, either of the cold or by going under the ice and being drowned.
Now where the story does not line up is that I have found her Death Certificate on, and it is dated 23 July 1919. July. On thinking this over I have come to conclude that the story could still be true. From personal experience I have learned that Death Certificates are dated the date the dead body is found, not the date of the probable death.
So the tragic tale of Ida M. Holien, my great aunt, is that at the tender age of 19 she lost her way when walking home from work in the cold, snowy winter, and fell through the ice and lost her life. 
Even sadder (I know I am not supposed to use the word "sadder", but will anyway) is that deaths of this type still happen. This winter, near where I live, some kids were crossing a drainage pond and the ice broke and the 12-year-old girl went under the ice and was not found in time and died. So sad.  

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